THE curtain comes down on an exciting episode of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season and it’s a hearty congratulations to champions Ngezi Platinum Stars, who will be crowned at Barbourfields this afternoon after their match against Highlanders.
Focus now shifts to the recognition of individuals, who lit up the stage with brilliant performances in the concluding season.
Of note is the fact that Tinotenda Benza and Nelson Chadya might be the only players from last year who could make it on to the calendar yet again this year as a panel of selectors prepares to vote for those who excelled this season on Tuesday.
Benza had an improved performance this season compared to the last period after scoring six goals and providing 10 assists as their club battled for a top-four finish right to the end.
Only Davison Marowa scored more goals than Benza at the club with seven for the season ahead of their final match against CAPS United at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
But focus would be on the newly crowned champions who surprised all and sundry to claim the league title in convincing fashion.
It was largely team effort, which makes it quite a tough job to pick the best player among the lot at the club.
Goalkeeper Nelson Chadya had an outstanding season as he provided the much needed experience for the largely youthful side with Ngezi Platinum managing 17 clean sheets in the 33 matches played.
- Inside Sport: Local stadiums in urgent need of attention
- Bullets ease relegation fears
- FC Platinum move six points clear
- Clinical Herentals leapfrog Ngezi to sixth
Chadya was one of the most consistent players at the club and it's almost certain he will make it onto the calendar.
Young striker Takunda Benhura made a late claim for a place among the soccer stars scoring crucial goals and went into the final weekend as the league’s top scorer with 13 strikes.
It was only his first full season in the league.
Captain Qadr Amini is another player from Ngezi who is likely to make it onto the soccer stars list as well as defenders Kudzai Chigwida and Gareth Madhake.
Dynamos are expected to provide a few of the players on the soccer stars calendar with Donald Mudadi the frontrunner after a big season in which he scored five goals which makes him the club’s joint top scorer at this stage.
Warriors’ midfielder Tanaka Shandirwa is certainly a crowd-favourite and could gatecrush his way among the country’s best players for the year.
It is also difficult to ignore the Dynamos defence, which had conceded just 14 goals, going into the weekend matches and Emmanuel Jalai has been a constant feature at the back for the Glamour Boys.
The team kept a massive 23 clean sheets this season.
Manica Diamonds, who are fighting to finish in a commendable second position, have also done incredibly well this year and are expected to provide a name or two to the list.
Striker Fortune Binzi had a blistering season with his goal-scoring exploits, which saw him win the first three monthly awards before fizzling out due to injury and ultimately losing out on the Golden Boot.
In the end it was former Dynamos and Chicken Inn forward Brett Amidu who carried the team which remained in the title race until match day 31.
Highlanders, who should be extremely disappointed after missing out on the championship after going the entire first half of the season unbeaten, are expected to provide a soccer star in Andrew Mbeba.
For CAPS United, two-time Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere can bounce back onto the soccer stars calendar after a brilliant second half of the season in which he helped the club tear away from the relegation battle late in the league race.
Chinyengetere’s nine goals so far made him the eighth best scorer in the league going into the final round of matches.
But the versatile Joseph Thulani was the shining light for CAPS United all season long even when the team was struggling, and the team struggles dent his chances of joining the elite club.
Former Soccer Star of the Year finalist Michael Charamba is certain to make it onto the calendar after a good season in which he excelled playing in a new role as a wingback.
Charamba was probably all that was good about Chicken Inn this season as they struggled to mount a serious title challenge under Prince Matore.
Obriel Chirinda is also likely to be voted among the best footballers in the land this season as he scored goals for fun for struggling Bulawayo Chiefs side and led the charts until last weekend when Benhura overtook him.
Simba Bhora captain Tinashe Balakasi's late flurry of goals should also help him storm his way among the best players for the year.
Balakasi, who won the Northern Region Division One golden boot last season has 10 goals going into final game week of the season.
Boid Mutukure has also done well at ZPC Kariba.
Front runners for the Soccer Of the year include Chadya who may become the fourth goalie to win the soccer star accolade joining Mparutsa(1981), Murambadoro (2003) and Arubi(2012)as well as Benhura, Amini and Chigwida.
Mudadi, Charamba and Chirinda are strong contenders for the biggest league's individual gong.
For the second year running fans are able to vote for their own choice of player of the year, an accolade won by Benza last year.